For Blue Springs boys basketball coach Adam Jones, coaching the Wildcats this season has meant watching them try to figure out various aspects of the game.

Such was the case during Thursday night’s 57-49 first-round Patterson Division loss to Winnetonka in the Holiday Classic at William Jewell College.

One area the Wildcats struggled to figure out Thursday was how to maintain their motor running high, Jones said. During the fourth quarter, when they were outscored 26-16, they were having problems with “keeping our energy level up,” he said.

“That’s inexcusable,” Jones said. “That’s just a matter of having some pride in what you’re doing on the defensive side.”

Even after six games, the Wildcats (2-4) are still looking for players who can play with energy, or as Jones put it, “just lay it all on the line and play.”

“We get pieces of that here and there,” he said.

Another trouble spot Thursday – that also has been a concern this season – was doing “the little things,” according to junior guard Kirk Finley, who paced Blue Springs with 14 points and was the only Wildcat in double figures. Those little things, he said, included “rebounding, not turning the ball over, blocking out, getting on the ball, getting on the floor.”

Through the first three quarters, however, the Wildcats figured out how to work the ball into the post, play with patience offensively and get “good looks” at the basket “from the guys that we wanted to get looks from,” Jones said. Figuring out those phases helped Blue Springs lead 13-9 after one quarter, 26-24 at halftime and 33-31 after three quarters.

During the first half, the Griffins (4-0) found their way to the foul line. They shot 22 first-half free throws, making 14. They made 25 of 38 overall. In contrast, Blue Springs shot – and made – only one first-half free throw and went 7 for 16 overall.

“That was our saving grace,” Winnetonka coach Todd Magwire said. “We missed a few at the end of the first half, but that actually kept us in the game. We didn’t play that pretty.”

During the fourth quarter, while the Wildcats, the Griffins were able to push the tempo and go to the bucket, Magwire said. Senior forward Chris Harbison, who scored 15 points, thought the Griffins tried to play their style of basketball the final quarter.

“I think whenever we get up and run, we’re at our best as a team,” Harbison said. “And the ability to do that is what is going to set us apart from other teams in the tournament.”

In figuring out a way to defeat Blue Springs, Winnetonka advanced to face Lee’s Summit West at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the division semifinals. The Wildcats will face Kansas City Central at 9 a.m. today in the division consolation semis.

“Short turnaround,” Finley said.